This most interesting and unusual surname is a rare form of the English surname Abbott. This was usually either an occupational name for someone employed in the household of an abbot, or perhaps a nickname for a sanctimonious person thought to conduct himself like an abbot! The surname derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century "abbod", and the later 12th century Middle English "abbot", which means what is says. An abbot, being the head of an abbey, would have been expected to be unmarried and celibate. Whether they were or not is open to some discussion and dissension, particulary as occasionally this surname is recorded with the patronymic suffix "s", indicating the "son of the abbot!". The surname itself first appears in the late 12th Century rolls (see below), whilst other early examples include Walter Abat, who is recorded in the Assize Court Rolls of Yorkshire in 1219, Peter le Abbot, mentioned in Essex Records of 1237, and Ralph Abbod, recorded in the Assize Court Rolls of Somerset in 1272. George Abbot (1562 - 1633) became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1611, whilst his brother, was lord mayor of London in 1638. Other recordings include Anthony, the son of William and Amye Abbatt, who was christened on August 15th 1653, at St. John's, Hackney, London, and Elizabeth Abbatt, who married John Pilborough at the famous church of St Mary-le-Bone, London, on February 8th 1781. The Coat of Arms most associated with the name has the blazon of a silver shield, charged with a black cross fimbrated gold, between four black eagles displayed. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter Abbot, which was dated circa 1190, in the Danelaw rolls of Lincolnshire, during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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